Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott says state legislators went above and beyond in the third Special Session to solve critical issues that will ensure a brighter future for the Lone Star State.
The third Special Session ended early Tuesday morning with a flurry of last-minute activity at the State Capitol.
Last month, the governor tasked legislators with redrawing the state's political maps, deciding how to use funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to aid COVID-19 recovery, blocking vaccine mandates, and preventing transgender youth from playing on sports teams that follow their gender identity and not the sex found on their birth certificate.
"Texans tasked the legislature with delivering on these priorities, and I am proud to say not only did we deliver on these priorities, but the legislature went above and beyond to solve other critical issues to ensure an even brighter future for the Lone Star State," Abbott said in a statement.
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Lawmakers also approved a compromise on tax relief that would increase the homestead exemption on school taxes from $25,000 to $40,000, saving the average homeowner roughly $176 per year in taxes, according to our partners at The Dallas Morning News.
Texas Republicans approved redrawn U.S. House maps that favor incumbent candidates and decrease political representation for growing minority communities, even as Latinos drive much of the growth in the nation’s largest red state. Though the legislative maps passed both the state House and Senate, they're already being challenged in court.
"The Legislature successfully passed an innovative distribution package for ARPA funding - appropriating billions of dollars to bolster COVID-19 recovery, public safety, broadband infrastructure, cybersecurity, healthcare, and more. The legislation was passed that secured a vote on a constitutional amendment that will provide property tax relief to Texas homeowners," Abbott said. "Both chambers also passed legislation to protect the integrity of Texas high school sports, strengthen higher education, protect dogs from cruelty and abuse, and expand access to education grants for children of fallen first responders."
Most of the governor's items were passed, though the vaccine mandate and an enhanced penalty for illegal voting will not make it to the governor's desk. Abbott's executive order banning vaccine mandates remains in effect though President Biden's proclamation ordering the vaccine mandate supersedes his.
Abbott has not said if he'll call a fourth special session.
Early voting is underway across Texas for a "uniform election," in which eight proposed amendments to the state constitution passed by state legislators this season will be on the ballot, including some that are direct responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.